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Dallas pulls it all together

The word for spring from Dallas is, "Forget floppy, forget baggy, be put-together and pretty." At the Southwestern Apparel Manufacturers show, pants, tops, dresses, and jackets were ingeniously cut and softened. Twirly skirts and cool camisole tops appeared under blazers or unstructured jackets, often in white, so welcome in the Texas climate. Jacketed suits or dresses were worn with brimmed straw hats, for the "finished" look. But "finished" was not severe, and "pretty" prevailed.

"Liberated" dresses, in tropical prints with Peruvian and Mexican motifs, were softened with lace. A full gamut of sundresses warned Texans and other warm-weather habitues that summer cannot be far behind.

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Flounced collars gave an after-5, off-the-shoulder look, with a more casual version converted for business with a matching print jacket over a white tailored skirt. Dovani's (from Donovan-Galvani) "office dress" was winsomely cap-sleeved and round-necked with a soft blouson over a swingy pleated skirt. Another office version was an elegant pale mauve poly-chiffon shirtwaist blouse over a matching pleated skirt, worn with a white jacket and finished with a spring straw hat.

Polyester and cotton simulated denim, voile, crepe, chiffon, and poplin, and 100 percent cottons were much in evidence. Women will be taking out their irons again.

Junior dresses were in white and candy-cool pastels, with small sleeves and dainty ribbon shashes. Seersucker, beloved in Texas for its cool trimness, is back, some in pincord versions.

For late day, the romantic look was interpreted by Victor Costa's long ruffy pink foille, contrasted by Mary Lide Murchison's (MLM) swirly black "Carnival" dress with sparkling sequins. Her "MLM" line, one of two new labels this season in the Dallas fashion galaxy, sprang from her penchant for painting on canvas, now expanded to taffeta, muslim, and other fabrics suitable for creating clothes as soft paintings.

Her flamenco dresses, balloon skirts, elasticized ankle pants, and frothy caftans, are hardly for cash-strapped young careerists, beginning at $300. Typical of her movable, wearable art is "Staccato," a two-piece muslin playsuit with peplum top and matching "balloomers" which can be worn at ankle or knee length.

Shorts remain popular. The best-looking ones are the trimly tailored Bermudas, sans the pear-shaped look some earlier years produced. Some cuffed, some straight, many are worn with with camisoles, or crispy tailored short-sleeved shirts, or jackets to be tossed over the shoulders.

For the young in figure is the "parasuit," a pale denim overall worn bare with buckled shoulder straps, neatly tucked into red cowboy boots. Shades of Blue also showed "high water" pants, ending above the ankle. and for the cruise-inclined, slimly tailored straight leg pants, worn with a long tunic, were offered.

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Taking a cue from the 100 African pieces of tribal jewelry and clothing exhibited at the Apparel Mart by dallas's Shango Galleries, accessories of bone, wood, rope, shells, animal skins, and beads enhanced some of the exotic versions of cruise and play clothes.

Western went pretty, with traditional suits from Legends West in hot pink and pastels, worn with confectionary-colored cowboy hats. And a recurring favorite, regardless of the season's color spectrum, the red/white/black triad made a charming appearance in a white western shirt and black pants, worn with a trim red small Stetson, red belt and boots. "Western," says Legends West, "is now a n integral part of sportswear."

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